Lynching

premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group

Lynching is an illegal form of trial and punishment by an informal group mainly associated with the United States. It is most often used to characterise public executions by a mob, often by hanging, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a minority group.  It is an extreme form of group social control such as charivari, skimmington, riding the rail, and tarring and feathering, but with a drift toward the public spectacle.

Lynching mob - My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped. ~ Maya Angelou

Quotes

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  • It startled him even more when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute's Prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they really couldn't stand was a smart-ass.
  • Paris ... On this side of the ocean it is difficult to understand the susceptibility of American citizens on the subject and precisely why they should so stubbornly cling to the biblical version. It is said in Genesis the first man came from mud and mud is not anything very clean. In any case if the Darwinian hypothesis should irritate any one it should only be the monkey. The monkey is an innocent animal—a vegetarian by birth. He never placed God on a cross, knows nothing of the art of war, does not practice lynch law and never dreams of assassinating his fellow beings. The day when science definitely recognizes him as the father of the human race the monkey will have no occasion to be proud of his descendants. That is why it must be concluded that the American Association which is prosecuting the teacher of evolution can be no other than the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
 
A picture in a book,
a lynching.
The bland faces of men who watch
a Christ go up in flames, smiling,
as if he were a hooked
fish, a felled antelope, some
wild thing tied to boards and burned.... - Toi Derricotte.
  • A picture in a book,
    a lynching.
    The bland faces of men who watch
    a Christ go up in flames, smiling,
    as if he were a hooked
    fish, a felled antelope, some
    wild thing tied to boards and burned.
    His charred body
    gives off light--a halo
    burns out of him.
    His face is scorched featureless;
    the hair matted to the scalp like feathers.
    One man stands with his hand on his hip,
    another with his arm
    slung over the shoulder of a friend,
    as if this moment were large enough
    to hold affection.
  • Central High School was where I first learned about the power of circumstances, about economics. I learned about what people of color were like through my neighborhood relationships, and also that there was racist hatred because there was a lynching in our neighborhood...I still have a recurring nightmare--the smell of burning flesh and a boy about my age whose father is trying to put this open pocketknife in his hand, pushing him, and telling him to go up [to the hanged man] and bring back part of his ear.
  • For a quarter of a century, in the Congress of the United States, we tried to get passed an anti-lynching bill. A simple law to protect the lives of black citizens below the Mason-Dixon line. This was not legislation, as our protesting brethren so often take us to task for—the legislation of brotherly love with they say is impossible. It was a law making it a federal offense to hang a human being from a tree, cover him with kerosene and cremate him. But the loudest cheerleaders of our current law and order rallies—the Eastlands and the Strom Thurmonds—were the very gentlemen who fought against that legislation until it was ultimately passed.
  • The artifacts that persist in my memory are the photographs of lynchings. But it’s not the burned, mutilated bodies that stick with me. It’s the faces of the white men in the crowd. There’s the photo of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Indiana in 1930, in which a white man can be seen grinning at the camera as he tenderly holds the hand of his wife or girlfriend...Their cruelty made them feel good, it made them feel proud, it made them feel happy. And it made them feel closer to one another…Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another, and to Trump. (p 100-1)
    • Adam Serwer The Cruelty Is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump's America (2021)
  • Not only is democracy mystical nonsense, it is also immoral.  If one man has no right to impose his wishes on another, then ten million men have no right to impose their wishes on the one, since the initiation of force is wrong (and the assent of even the most overwhelming majority can never make it morally permissible).  Opinions—even majority opinions—neither create truth nor alter facts.  A lynch mob is democracy in action.  So much for mob rule.
  • Lynch law held sway in the far West until civilization spread into the Territories and the orderly processes of law took its place. The emergency no longer existing, lynching gradually disappeared from the West.
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